Gravity hills or also known as magnetic, mystery and spook hills, exist all over the United States and have fascinated people with their ability to mysteriously bypass the laws of physics as we know them. When a car appears to be moving uphill backward, that’s some weirdness. But are gravity hills all that mysterious? Are they an area of the planet where gravity doesn’t behave normally? Is there a rational explanation?
JUST AN OPTICAL ILLUSION?
Many moons ago when this website had a discussion forum, I saved this great write-up someone created:
“There are lots of gravity hills around the world. They are actually optical illusions where the lay of the land appears to be uphill. You can take a laser level with you and you will find it’s actually slightly downhill. It’s a lot like the mystery spots that are built at angles, such as the Mystery Spot in St. Ignus. They convince your mind that you’re defying gravity. They are still fun and require a lot of thought when built. The mind is only following what has been programmed into it. While humans also have a sense of balance to determine the inclination of the ground, visual cues can override this sense, especially if the inclination is shallow.”
And there it is. Of course, a spookier explanation would be cooler. Oh well. Doesn’t a “natural optical illusion” prove the planet is still a pretty amazing and freaky place at times?
VISITING THE MYSTERY SPOT
The Mystery Spot in St. Ignace, in Michigan’s Upper Penisula, claims to be one of these “mysterious gravity spots.” In the early ’00s, we were in the Upper Penisula and after passing endless billboards urging us to, “Visit the Mystery Spot!” we succumbed and bought tickets, sat down, and waited for our tour number to be called.
Our presence attracted the attention of an old man who felt the need to tell us about the nearby “largest cross in the woods.” I probably looked like I needed some Jesus in my life with my usual shirt depicting some heavy metal band. We pretended to be interested, nodded and smiled a lot and our tour number finally was called.
We approached a tiny shack built at an angle on the side of a hill. I honestly was excited, thinking that I was going to be experiencing one of the great mysteries of the world within the confines of this structure. By all means, everything inside this shack seemed to defy the normal laws of physics. Everyone “oohed” and “awwed” as water miraculously traveled uphill and people stood at impossible angles. The tour was short and overpriced and you could pay more money to do even more semi-lame things nearby. The whole shack itself made me slightly nauseous from the strange angles and I was glad to get out of it. We really couldn’t decide how the whole thing was accomplished and figured it wasn’t worth thinking too hard about.
Years later, when I finally learned this place was just an optical illusion, I felt sort of dumb in that I never questioned it before. I just assumed like everyone else that “there was something different with the Earth” at this “mystery spot.”
FINDING GRAVITY HILLS IN MICHIGAN
Putney Road in Benzie County – Even the Manistee County website encourages people to go out and experience the Putney Road gravity hill! They call it the “special section” of the road. According to their website, “Putney Rd. crosses Joyfield Rd. between US 31 and M22. Travel south from Joyfield Rd. and stop at a point 150 to 200 ft. beyond the “Stop Ahead” sign on the east side of the road, then put your car in neutral. You will roll all the way back up the hill to the Blaine Christian Church. And take time to enjoy the view of rolling hills, orchards, and farms along the way.” They also suggest trying it with a bike or skateboard.
Local legend says it’s actually the Blaine Christian Church pulling “sinners” towards it for redemption.
Oakwood Cemetery in Farmington – A gravity hill in a cemetery? How awesome! If you put your car in neutral at the bottom of the west hill, the car will roll backward uphill and out the cemetery gate.
Rose City – Put your car in neutral and watch yourself roll uphill backward! Grab a buddy to help with this location as it would be wise to have a lookout person on this hilly, dirt road.
Head east on M-33 in Rose City, then take a left onto Reasner Road heading north. Drive for a few miles until you cross Heath Road. Reasner Road ends at a curve that turns into Decker Road, which is at the top of the gravity hill.
Calumet – Tamarack Water Works Road – Does this gravity hill even exist? I really can’t find any information on this one. If you have heard of or experienced this location, please write.
Idiot Disclaimer: If you should so desire to try a gravity hill, remember you are on a public road, not a “tourist site.” Don’t be stupid and pay attention to other drivers. If you have visited any of these sites and have something interesting to share, send a message.